Super Bowl: which trends scored a touchdown?

The 2019 Super Bowl was no vintage year when it came to adverts. No controversy, no tear jerkers, no big laughs – may we dare say, no clear winner?

The political disenchantment in the US, added to the ongoing dispute between the NFL and players refusing to sing the national anthem to denounce police brutality may explain the cautious behaviour of brands that usually enjoy some Super Bowl controversy.

Brands have been playing it safe, knowing too well that controversy can be a double-edge sword. Ratings for the game were low, with the worst scores in 11 years, partially due to the game itself being painstakingly boring. Still Super Bowl remains the greatest advertising event in the US as it’s an opportunity for brands to get creative, with huge audience anticipation.

We’ve watched the 50 minutes of advertising and pulled out some trends from this year’s Super Bowl crop, just for you.

Red carpet

Brands have been massively investing in celebrity cameos this year, with an impressive list of stars featuring in their adverts. Super Bowl is a highly competitive event for brands, the audience being almost as excited by Super Bowl adverts as they are by the game itself; getting celebrities to endorse their product is a safe way for brands to win the audience over.

More than the Cannes Festival, it seems Super Bowl was the place to be seen. In the Stella Artois campaign Jeff Bridges and Sarah Jessica Parker reprise their roles in The Big Lebowski and Sex and The City respectively – and are shown ordering a Stella instead of their usual White Russian and Cosmopolitan.

Other celebrity cameos include Amazon’s ad featuring Harrison Ford, Steve Carrell for Pepsi or Sarah Michelle Gellar for Olay.

Go girl

On the back of the #MeToo movement quite a few brands have focused on empowering women. Tennis champion Serena Williams is the face of the campaign for dating app Bumble, with the tagline ‘The ball is in her court’. A nice line, as unlike other dating apps, Bumble gets women to initiate the conversation. And Williams doesn’t limit herself to featuring in the ad, she is the co-creative director of the Bumble campaign.

American Football itself was depicted in a more feminist light with Toyota’s ad featuring female athlete Toni Harris, one of the first women in history to play college football. The ad shows her from childhood, determined to follow her dream of playing American football, and then as an athlete flipping a tire as part of an intense work out, to demonstrate what it takes to make it in a male-dominated sport.

Vintage nostalgia

Probably the most original ad this year, Burger King’s #EatLikeAndy campaign shows real footage of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper from Burger King in a rather mundane, uninspired manner. The footage is taken from a 1982 art video, that attempted to demonstrate how the burger was the quintessential American meal, regardless of your social status. With this homage to pop art, Burger King hopes to establish the Whopper as an icon, the way Andy Warhol had done with Campbell soups.
The ad was not met with a great reception from the public – perhaps a little too artsy for your average NFL fan? Or simply not entertaining enough? We’ll let you be the judge of that.

Fear of technology

Another rather surprising theme which underpinned a few Super Bowl ads is suspicion towards technology. In a rather humorous advert, Amazon unveils failed Alexa experiments – including an Alexa for dogs and an Alexa hot tub.

Three other ads played on people’s fear of technology. Both TurboTax’s and Michelob’s spots feature robots unable to rival human levels of intelligence, while Simplisafe leans on people’s fear of being replaced by robots to promote their home security systems.

Want to learn more about current marketing trends? Download our Global Marketing Trends 2019 Report now.

Eleonore Maudet
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